Skip to Content

raceAhead: The Olympics’ Divide

Hi, I’m Jeremy Quittner, a writer for Fortune.com’s Venture channel. I’m filling in for Ellen McGirt this week while she’s on vacation.

Jeremy Taiwo is one of the lucky 550 people competing this year on the U.S. Olympic team. The games get underway Friday night in Rio.

Based in Seattle, and a student of Latin American studies and global health at the University of Washington, Taiwo will be competing in the decathlon, one of the most physically challenging events of the Olympics. Athletes must perform in ten different track and field events, including running, jumping, pole vault, javelin, and discus.

Yet some might say Taiwo comes by his athletic abilities honestly. The 28-year-old is the son of Joseph Taiwo, a former triple-jumper who played for Team Nigeria in the 1984 and 1988 Olympic games.

His mother Irene is an attorney who got her law degree from the University of Washington, and is originally from Colombia.

As the son of immigrants and of mixed-race heritage, Taiwo hopes his performance in the Olympics can build bridges and make a positive statement about race and immigration. Those two issues have been especially polarizing this year, with numerous incidents of police violence involving African Americans, and in the presidential election, where immigration reform is a top concern for both political parties.

“Race is a really big thing in our country,” Taiwo says, adding he prefers to focus on things that bring different groups together. “Where we find ourselves a lot of the time is trying to make differences, but I want to celebrate commonalities between groups.”

Certainly the Olympics is a global forum to celebrate through sports the things that unite us, regardless of race and nationality. This year, athletes from more than 200 countries will compete for coveted gold medals.

Check out the full story here about how Taiwo used crowdfunding site GoFundMe to finance his journey to the games.

On Point

An Olympic featIn a historic first, the four women playing for the U.S. Olympic team in singles tennis—sisters Serena and Venus Williams, Madison Keys, and Sloane Stephens—are all African American. That’s not the case on the men’s side. Here’s why.The New Yorker


Help for women and minority founders in tech
Startups run by minority women have historically struggled to raise funding for their startups. Meet one organization that’s trying to give them a leg up.
Fortune via Uncubed



Some California charter schools aren’t playing by the rules, ACLU says
A new report by the ACLU of Southern California suggests that as many as 253 charter schools across the state are discriminating in their admissions policies.
Los Angeles Times

The Woke Leader



When the bad news is too much to handle
At a time when it feels like there’s an endless stream of senseless crimes around the world, it’s important to find ways to preserve your mental and emotional health. Hint: You may want to avoid reaching for your phone the instant you wake up.
BlackEnterprise

 

Quote

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
—Edith Wharton